WAJID & The Perfect Pearl: Tales from Old Araby

The old axiom a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ asserts that a single striking image conveys a sense of place more effectively than a lengthy description; in Wajid & The Perfect Pearl I have reversed this belief in writing a ‘thousand’ words around the photographs.

The idea occurred to me when I saw a photo I’d taken of a cat in Muscat capital of the Sultanate of Oman. I would see him on my daily strolls, sitting outside an incense shop, eyes closed, lost in cat dreams as the scent of frankincense drifted through the bazaar.

A Cat Called Aziz became the inspiration to write, not only his imagined story, but others around the photographs in this little book. Now, many years later, I have finally written some fact-based tales of traditional characters encountered in Old Araby.

Words and images have always been the warp and weft in weaving articles and in my books published in the United Kingdom and more recently in Australia where I now live following more than fifty years of travels.

Wajid & The Perfect Pearl is likely my swansong. It is listed on all major bookseller websites and has reviews on Amazon.

WAJID AND THE PERFECT PEARL: https://www.amazon.com/Wajid-Perfect-Pearl-Tales-Araby/dp/0992324076

I took the photo of the “perfect pearl” of the title in Bahrain while researching my first book The Gulf States and Oman. The small island state once employed as many as 50,000 men in the pearl-diving industry which had died out by the mid-20th century due to competition from the cheaper Japanese cultured pearl.

One cannot travel far in the Gulf States without seeing a date palm. Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of dates from an estimated 34 million palms. In interior villages like that in the tale of The Benevolent Date Palm a man’s wealth is still equated with the number of palms he owns. I took this picture of the dates in Nizwa, the old imamate capital when the country was known as “Muscat and Oman”.

The first photo in Ahmed the Red Sea Fisherman was taken in Dhofar Province in Oman. I was walking along the beach as fishermen were landing the night’s catch when I grabbed a shot of this old man of the sea. The photo was later published on the cover of The Geographical Magazine in London.

The Black Ribbon Road is based on the true story of the development of Abu Dhabi,  capital of the United Arab Emirates. My photo from a Gulf Air flight in 1978 shows the channel separating the island of Abu Dhabi from the mainland. Bedouin from the desert hinterland once used to wade across on camels to buy goods from visiting dhows. The original Maqta Bridge, built in 1968, is seen.

The wonderful white falcon photographed at the World Falconry Conference in Abu Dhabi in 1976 prompted my writing of a bird who longed to be free. While today there is Formula One Motor Racing and international tennis tournaments, hunting with falcons remains popular in sheikhly circles. A well-trained falcon may fetch as much as $100,000.


About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: www.worldreligions.co.uk. Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
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